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Mawgu - edible grub
Title : Mawgu - edible grub Mawgu - edible grub
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Date of creation : ca. 1915
Additional Creator : Bates, Daisy, 1859-1951
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 132 x 87 mm
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

Photograph, in postcard format, of an edible grub. The description, in pencil on the reverse side, thought to have been written by Daisy Bates, reads:

These grubs of various kinds and sizes are of the greatest value to the aborigines. They are a constant stand-by as food, and are found in most trees and tree roots, especially in dry areas. Their taste is that of almonds. Some very large species are the totems of the tribes in whose areas they are found. The largest and longest I have seen is called "barra birdi" in Central Australia. The length was over four inches and its thickness nearly an inch. Two of these make a satisfactory breakfast. Each tree and shrub has its own species of grub which later changes into a moth. If our early explorers had known of these grubs, there would have been no tragedies.

Before European settlement the traditional diet of Aboriginal Australians was based on the naturally occurring foods that could be hunted and gathered from the land, rivers and oceans. Fruit, vegetables, grains, meat and fish were part of many communities' diets and they had a thorough knowledge of the edible flora and fauna available in their territory and seasonal changes.

From the 1980s an appreciation grew of the uniqueness and the nutritional qualities of foods that Aboriginal Australians had eaten for generations before white settlement. Some suggested that these 'bush foods' were the only truly Australian foods and our national cuisine should be based upon these ingredients.

Vic Cherikoff, advocate of bush food and proprietor of the company Bush Tucker Supply, wrote in 1992:

From the time of the European invasion of Aboriginal Australia up to the mid 1980s, there have been no national culinary landmarks in Australian gastronomy; not a single dish which is proudly and identifiably Australian; nor any attempt to create a discernable food culture...A uniquely Australian food culture can only be based upon foods indigenous to this country. The ingredients should be recognisably Australian and the dishes using them should elicit a feeling of nationalistic pride (p. 14)

Period : 1914-1918
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback,Northern Territory
Further reading :

Cherikoff, Vic. Uniquely Australian : the beginnings of an Australian bushfood cuisine, Boronia Park, N.S.W. : Bush Tucker Supply, c1992

Isaacs, Jennifer. Bush food : Aboriginal food and herbal medicine, McMahons Point, N.S.W. : Weldons, c1987

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